Solon woman gets probation for thefts from Bentleyville church; must repay $66,400 and pay $10,000 fine

| September 10, 2009

BENTLEYVILLE A Solon woman will serve two years of probation for stealing more than $66,000 from St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

Ruth Lewis, 61, was sentenced Aug. 26 in the U.S. District Court in Akron.

She must pay $66,404 in restitution plus fines totaling $10,200, according to the court.

Lewis worked with children’s ministries at the church, 6295 Chagrin River Road.

She pleaded guilty to felony charges of access device fraud and uttering forged securities of an organization June 9.

According to the court, between about May 2005 and May 2007 she used the church’s Key Bank account number to make deposits from other people to the church’s bank account.

She then used the bank deposit receipts to receive money for payments she claimed to make, but were really made by other people, in the amount of $49,267.

She also used the church’s credit card for personal purposes by claiming the deposits were made from her funds.

Between June 30, 2006, and July 25, 2007, Lewis forged signatures to deposit three checks totaling $14,300 from the church’s Huntington Bank account into her personal bank account.

Church officials were unable to be reached for comment.

St. Martin’s was recently rebuilt after a fire damaged most of the building July 13, 2007.

The fire was declared an arson by the state fire marshal’s office in July 2007. The case was then transferred to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and remains under investigation.

The fire started in a first-floor library and spread into a reception room, but the entire building was damaged by smoke.

Three days later, another fire broke out in the same areas burned by the first blaze.

Insurance paid for $2.85 million of the $3.2 million renovation.

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Category: Church Security

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